Saturday, 24 April 2010

A Good Long Walk

Today we went for a long walk, to see what we could see on a lovely sunny day. We started at the front door of the house, where these narcissi are in full bloom. Their scent is heavenly and I look forward to it each year. I'm a very bad gardener and have a habit of losing plant labels, so I'm afraid I don't know the variety.
At this time of year the edges of fields near the river are full of these plants - Lesser Celandines (ranunculus ficaria). Splashes of yellow flowers accompanied us along the riverbank.
After a long climb, we made it to the moors. There are lots of lambs about now - we upset this group by wanting to walk through their field (it's a public footpath but little used), so we deviated round the edge of the field a bit.
In the Musbury valley we had a surprise - Wheatears and lots of them. I played hide and seek with this one, peeking round the edge of a building to get this snap. It's not high quality as I had to use the digital zoom on the camera. These birds winter in Africa and nest in holes in the walls on the upland moors here. They've been breeding near here for years, but there seems to have been a population explosion as for the first time they have colonised the whole valley, we counted 23 of them, which is a record. We saw them mostly in pairs, spread out on territories which were roughly one field length.
The trees are just about to come into leaf, but they still have a striking silhouette on the unusually blue sky.
On the way down from the moors, we came across these daffodils, in what was a car park for nearby offices (now unused). The daffodils are out in full force everywhere now.
This is the park at Snig Hole, where the trees are blossoming freely. The park was created in 1922 as a memorial after the First World War. The small shrubs are rhododendrons - they had got very big and unkempt so a couple of years ago they were cut back severely, which caused a lot of upset. But they did need it, and rhododendrons come back well from this kind of treatment - these are all covered in fresh leaves and flower buds so I'm looking forward to seeing them bloom later.

Before you ask, "snig" is an old word for eel, which do still live nearby in the river which runs to the right of this picture.
This is Wood Sorrel (oxalis acetosella), which grows in shady banks alongside a wood on the way home. It is one of the origins of all those oxalis plants you find in the garden centres. It's a pretty plant which unfortunately flowers all too briefly.

I'll be back in the vegetable garden in the next few days, everything is coming on well now the temperatures are rising.
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